11th Apr 2012
The Hunger Games Love Triangle: Why I’m Not Convinced
Why does everyone think that The Hunger Games was about a love triangle?
Given the kind of men I’m attracted to, there was always a good chance I was going to miss out on The Hunger Games hunk-factor. As my long-time listener-sister pointed out: “You like men who look like men, and you can’t have a full-grown man dry-humping 16-year-old Katniss in a cave”.
So yeah, the love triangle wasn’t the reason I went from ambivalent to obsessed within the first ten pages of the Suzanne Collins trilogy.
With the recent release of The Hunger Games film, however, I’ve begun to suspect that my reading of the book is fundamentally out of step with the rest of humanity.
That not picking up on the love triangle as a major theme is the equivalent of not noticing that The Philosopher’s Stone has a fuck-ton of wizards in it.
Apparently Peeta or Gale (mullet-boy or clinically-forehead-deficient as the film cast them) is the overriding concern and a question of our times.
So where did I go wrong?
Taking the first book to avoid spoilers (and because there’s nothing to really spoil at that point), when we meet Katniss she is her family’s sole breadwinner. Her drippy little sister, Prim, is picked for the Hunger Games and will clearly drown in her own tears before she even enters the arena.
So Katniss volunteers to go and be killed so that Prim can carry on being imminently slappable, only to discover she will have to kill one of the only people who’s ever been kind to her; Peeta.
Her only chance at survival is to completely corrupt her natural instincts by killing everyone else and pretending to be in love with Peeta until she can kill him too. So far, so Malory Towers.
Obviously there is a love triangle (and if she has to choose it should be Peeta) but surely it doesn’t deserve to be placed quite so centre stage. It makes as much sense to suggest that this is actually a story about mental illness:
- If Katniss’s mother hadn’t become depressed when the girls father died Katniss might not have had to grow up so quickly. When Prim was selected she might not have reacted in the same way, not thought to volunteer in her place and the trilogy would have lasted about 100 words more before Prim impaled herself on a daisy.
- If Haymitch hadn’t become an alcoholic after his own victory in the arena the other candidates might not have underestimated the District 12 tributes and would have taken them out in the first few hours.
So, it actually makes no sense but surely this is the sign of an enjoyable read, that you can theorise about it to the most absurd, extreme end of three grande chai tea lattes. As opposed to the only intrigue on offer being whether Bella will crack onto the dead guy or the hairy guy…
With The Hunger Games you’ve got autonomy in the face of utilitarianism. The corruption of power. The value of human life. The growing resource and wealth gap in contemporary society.
I know this is tripping into the po-faced domain of readers with adult covers for their Harry Potter books and those who can only enjoy the Northern Lights as atheist grand-standing. But it’s not like this is sodding Twilight!
Can’t we all just agree that as a dominatrix of the forest Katniss should just make it with Cinna, and leave the love triangle festering away in the background where it belongs?